London's 10 Best Bars: Nothing Succeeds like Excess

London has been perfecting the art of drinking for two millennia and counting. (We blame the Vikings.) Its late-night pubs and glittering lounges have been home to momentous bits of cultural history: They're where Shakespeare found inspiration, where Lenin met Stalin, and where The Sex Pistols first stepped onto stage. And that richness seeps its way into every posh lounge, gritty speakeasy, and skyscraping aerial watering hole you can come across, from Edgware to Tooting. Pair that with the new wave of nightlife innovators and you've got a city whose bar scene rivals Paris, Hong Kong, and – dare we say it – The Big Apple. Bar and mixology heavyweights like Byran Pietersen and Alex Kammerling have not simply been keeping up with trends, but redefining rules and setting new benchmarks for London nightlife. Not to put too fine a point on it, London's bars have never been so imaginative and refreshing, and no visitor to the city should miss out. Whether you're after the true aristocrat experience along the Strand, or cashing in your street cred down Hackney's shadowy crevices, we've painfully selected the ten bars to leave you with stars in your eyes (and quite possibly a pounding in your head come morning).

Beaufort at the Savoy

Nowhere else in the city so perfectly encapsulates London's pre-war extravagance like The Beaufort at The Savoy. You may go into a sensory coma upon entering (yes, that is £40,000 worth of gold leaf that you're looking at) but once you've...  Read More

There may indeed be history in every nook and cranny of "London's oldest wine bar", but Gordon's needs no extra selling-points. Stepping inside its winding cave structure past a buffet of hot food hidden somehow stylishly beside their...  Read More

The Phene
Photo courtesy of The Phene

The Phene is a cozy, nook-hidden home to English classics with a swanky twist (think saucy chicken filo "pies" and a Bloody Mary fit for a queen). Get a cushioned corner seat by a heater outside in order to spy on all of Chelsea's bright young...  Read More


For those nights when you simply need your cocktails delivered in an antique belljar, delivered in a haze of pine-scented smoke, Purl is your sanctuary. Book out a sofa cave for an intimate night with friends, then mingle at the bar when...  Read More

Art collective Jaguar Shoes became the harbingers of east London's hip-pocalypse when they opened up Shoreditch bar-shash-gallery Dream Bags Jaguar Shoes in 2002. With brand new concept-pub The Dalston Victoria, they've reinvented themselves for...  Read More

You may not be able to tell if you're seated inside west London's hippest basement-level speakeasy, or in your Aunt Mabel's dining room. But be assured, the London leisure megastars behind Bourne & Hollingsworth have fitted their bar to be...  Read More

It's rare that a bar can make you feel both at the center of the action and hidden away from the world. The Bar at Madison's magic is that it's just that: whatever you want it to be, looking out on a city you can call your own (if only for a few...  Read More

It takes will and determination to find Hackney's hippest mezcal spot – but once you make it down those hidden steps, you're in for a night you'll never forget. 184 is intimate 00 a long room where you'll undoubtedly need to get your elbows...  Read More

There is very little that Hawksmoor doesn't do right. Its five London locations specialize in different culinary areas (Air Street for seafood, Spitalfields for steak, as any local will tell you) and their Seven Dials, Covent Garden location...  Read More

Get your inner child out and ready to scribble at Battesea's whimsical Doodle Bar, where you can bounce between ping ping, doodlable walls, and tasty street food. Carry your drinks through the carefully curated brick-and-tin warehouse-chic...  Read More


Meet Arianna Reiche

Arianna Reiche is a London-based writer and publisher. Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, she studied at the University of Edinburgh before working with Vice, New Scientist,...  More About Arianna

comments powered by Disqus

Build your own lists that you can easily reference or share stories with your friends.

Login ×

Forgot login/password?
Don't have an account? Create Your Account!

Enter your username or email in the box below and click
"Remind Me".

Remind Me ×
Create Account ×
Create Account ×

Already have an account?

Add to List ×
Save ×

Go to Lists Close Window ×